Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: Section 1
p. CXXXV Book III.
§1. This third book shows a third fall of Eunomius, as refuting himself, and sometimes saying that the Son is to be called Only-begotten in virtue of natural generation, and that Holy Scripture proves this from the first; at other times, that by reason of His being created He should not be called a Son, but a “product,” or “creature.”
If, when a man “strives lawfully 522 ,” he finds a limit to his struggle in the contest by his adversarys either refusing the struggle, and withdrawing of his own accord in favour of his conqueror from his effort for victory, or being thrown according to the rules of wrestling in three falls (whereby the glory of the crown is bestowed with all the splendour of proclamation upon him who has proved victorious in the umpires judgment), then, since Eunomius, though he has been already twice thrown in our previous arguments, does not consent that truth should hold the tokens of her victory over falsehood, but yet a third time raises the dust against godly doctrine in his accustomed arena of falsehood with his composition, strengthening himself for his struggle on the side of deceit, our statement of truth must also be now called forth to put his falsehood to rout, placing its hopes in Him Who is the Giver and the Judge of victory, and at the same time deriving strength from the very unfairness of the adversaries tricks of wrestling. For we are not ashamed to confess that we have prepared for our contest no weapon of argument sharpened by rhetoric, that we can bring forward to aid us in the fight with those arrayed against us, no cleverness or sharpness of dialectic, such as with inexperienced judges lays even on truth the suspicion of falsehood. One strength our reasoning against falsehood has—first the very Word Himself, Who is the might of our word, 523 and in the next place the rottenness of the arguments set against us, which is overthrown and falls by its own spontaneous action. Now in order that it may be made as clear as possible to all men, that the very efforts of Eunomius serve as means for his own overthrow to those who contend with him, I will set forth to my readers his phantom doctrine (for so I think that doctrine may be called which is quite outside the truth), and I would have you all, who are present at our struggle, and watch the encounter now taking place between my doctrine and that which is matched with it, to be just judges of the lawful striving of our arguments, that by your just award the reasoning of godliness may be proclaimed as victor to the whole theatre of the Church, having won undisputed victory over ungodliness, and being decorated, in virtue of the three falls of its enemy, with the unfading crown of them that are saved. Now this statement is set forth against the truth by way of preface to his third discourse, and this is the fashion of it:—“Preserving,” he says, “natural order, and abiding by those things which are known to us from above, we do not refuse to speak of the Son, seeing He is begotten, even by the name of product of generation 524 , since the generated essence and 525 the appellation of Son make such a relation of words appropriate.” I beg the reader to give his attention carefully to this point, that while he calls God both “begotten” and “Son,” he refers the reason of such names to “natural order,” and calls to witness to this conception the knowledge possessed from above: so that if anything should be found in the course of what follows contrary to the positions he has laid down, it is clear to all that he is overthrown by himself, refuted by his own arguments before ours are brought against him. And so let us consider his statement in the light of his own words. He confesses that the name of “Son” would by no means be properly applied to the Only-begotten God, did not “natural order,” as he says, confirm the appellation. If, then, one were to withdraw the order of nature from the consideration of the designation of “Son,” his use of this name, being deprived of its proper and natural significance, will be meaningless. And p. CXXXVI moreover the fact that he says these statements are confirmed, in that they abide by the knowledge possessed from above, is a strong additional support to the orthodox view touching the designation of “Son,” seeing that the inspired teaching of the Scriptures, which comes to us from above, confirms our argument on these matters. If these things are so, and this is a standard of truth that admits of no deception, that these two concur—the “natural order,” as he says, and the testimony of the knowledge given from above confirming the natural interpretation—it is clear, that to assert anything contrary to these, is nothing else than manifestly to fight against the truth itself. Let us hear again what this writer, who makes nature his instructor in the matter of this name, and says that he abides by the knowledge given to us from above by the instruction of the saints, sets out at length a little further on, after the passage I have just quoted. For I will pretermit for the time the continuous recital of what is set next in order in his treatise, that the contradiction in what he has written may not escape detection, being veiled by the reading of the intervening matter. “The same argument,” he says, “will apply also in the case of what is made and created, as both the natural interpretation and the mutual relation of the things, and also the use of the saints, give us free authority for the use of the formula: wherefore one would not be wrong in treating the thing made as corresponding to the maker, and the thing created to the creator.” Of what product of making or of creation does he speak, as having naturally the relation expressed in its name towards its maker and creator? If of those we contemplate in the creation, visible and invisible (as Paul recounts, when he says that by Him all things were created, visible and invisible) 526 , so that this relative conjunction of names has a proper and special application, that which is made being set in relation to the maker, that which is created to the creator,—if this is his meaning, we agree with him. For in fact, since the Lord is the Maker of angels, the angel is assuredly a thing made by Him that made him: and since the Lord is the Creator of the world, clearly the world itself and all that is therein are called the creature of Him that created them. If however it is with this intention that he makes his interpretation of “natural order,” systematizing the appropriation of relative terms with a view to their mutual relation in verbal sense, even thus it would be an extraordinary thing, seeing that every one is aware of this, that he should leave his doctrinal statement to draw out for us a system of grammatical trivialities 527 . But if it is to the Only-begotten God that he applies such phrases, so as to say that He is a thing made by Him that made Him, a creature of Him that created Him, and to refer this terminology to “the use of the saints,” let him first of all show us in his statement what saints he says there are who declared the Maker of all things to be a product and a creature, and whom he follows in this audacity of phrase. The Church knows as saints those whose hearts were divinely guided by the Holy Spirit,—patriarchs, lawgivers, prophets, evangelists, apostles. If any among these is found to declare in his inspired words that God over all, Who “upholds all things with the word of His power,” and grasps with His hand all things that are, and by Himself called the universe into being by the mere act of His will, is a thing created and a product, he will stand excused, as following, as he says, the “use of the saints 528 ” in proceeding to formulate such doctrines. But if the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures is freely placed within the reach of all, and nothing is forbidden to or hidden from any of those who choose to share in the divine instruction, how comes it that he endeavours to lead his hearers astray by his misrepresentation of the Scriptures, referring the term “creature,” applied to the Only-begotten, to “the use of the saints”? For that by Him all things were made, you may hear almost from the whole of their holy utterance, from Moses and the prophets and apostles who come after him, whose particular expressions it would be tedious here to set forth. Enough for our purpose, with the others, and above the others, is the sublime John, where in the preface to his discourse on the Divinity of the Only-begotten he proclaims aloud the fact that there is none of the things that were made which was not made through Him 529 , a fact which is an incontestable and positive proof of His being Lord of the creation, not reckoned in the list of created things. For if all things that are made exist by no other but by Him (and John bears witness that nothing among the things that are, throughout the creation, was made without Him), who is so blinded in understanding as not to see in the Evangelists proclamation the truth, that He Who made all the creation is assuredly something else besides the creation? For if all that is numbered among the things that were made has its being through Him, while He Himself is “in the beginning,” and is “with God,” being God, and Word, and Life, and Light, and express Image, and Brightness, and p. CXXXVII if none of the things that were made throughout creation is named by the same names—(not Word, not God, not Life, not Light, not Truth, not express Image, not Brightness, not any of the other names proper to the Deity is to be found employed of the creation)—then it is clear that He Who is these things is by nature something else besides the creation, which neither is nor is called any of these things. If, indeed, there existed in such phrases an identity of names between the creation and its Maker, he might perhaps be excused for making the name of “creation” also common to the thing created and to Him Who made it, on the ground of the community of the other names: but if the characteristics which are contemplated by means of the names, in the created and in the uncreated nature, are in no case reconcilable or common to both, how can the misrepresentation of that man fail to be manifest to all, who dares to apply the name of servitude to Him Who, as the Psalmist declares, “ruleth with His power for ever 530 ,” and to bring Him Who, as the Apostle says, “in all things hath the pre-eminence 531 ,” to a level with the servile nature, by means of the name and conception of “creation”? For that all 532 the creation is in bondage the great Paul declares 533 ,— he who in the schools above the heavens was instructed in that knowledge which may not be spoken, learning these things in that place where every voice that conveys meaning by verbal utterance is still, and where unspoken meditation becomes the word of instruction, teaching to the purified heart by means of the silent illumination of the thoughts those truths which transcend speech. If then on the one hand Paul proclaims aloud “the creation is in bondage,” and on the other the Only-begotten God is truly Lord and God over all, and John bears witness to the fact that the whole creation of the things that were made is by Him, how can any one, who is in any sense whatever numbered among Christians, hold his peace when he sees Eunomius, by his inconsistent and inconsequent systematizing, degrading to the humble state of the creature, by means of an identity of name that tends to servitude, that power of Lordship which surpasses all rule and all authority? And if he says that he has some of the saints who declared Him to be a slave, or created, or made, or any of these lowly and servile names, lo, here are the Scriptures. Let him, or some other on his behalf, produce to us one such phrase, and we will hold our peace. But if there is no such phrase (and there could never be found in those inspired Scriptures which we believe any such thought as to support this impiety), what need is there to strive further upon points admitted with one who not only misrepresents the words of the saints, but even contends against his own definitions? For if the “order of nature,” as he himself admits, bears additional testimony to the Sons name by reason of His being begotten, and thus the correspondence of the name is according to the relation of the Begotten to the Begetter, how comes it that he wrests the significance of the word “Son” from its natural application, and changes the relation to “the thing made and its maker”—a relation which applies not only in the case of the elements of the universe, but might also be asserted of a gnat or an ant—that in so far as each of these is a thing made, the relation of its name to its maker is similarly equivalent? The blasphemous nature of his doctrine is clear, not only from many other passages, but even from those quoted: and as for that “use of the saints” which he alleges that he follows in these expressions, it is clear that there is no such use at all.
2 Tim. ii. 5.CXXXV:523
The earlier editions here omit a long passage, which Oehler restores.CXXXV:524
Inserting καὶ, which does not appear here in Oehlers text, but is found in later quotations of the same passage: αὐτῆς is also found in the later citations.CXXXVI:526
Cf. Col. i. 16CXXXVI:527
Oehlers punctuation here seems to admit of alteration.CXXXVI:528
Reading τῇ χρήσει τῶν ἁγίων for τῇ κρίσει τῶν ἁγίων, the reading of Oehler: the words are apparently a quotation from Eunomius, from whom the phrase χρήσις τῶν ἁγίων has already been cited.CXXXVI:529
Cf. S. John i. 3CXXXVII:530
Ps. 66:6, 7Ps. lxvi. 6 (LXX.).CXXXVII:531
Col. i. 18.CXXXVII:532
Substituting πᾶσαν for the πᾶσιν of Oehlers text.CXXXVII:533
Rom. viii. 21.
Next: He then once more excellently, appropriately, and clearly examines and expounds the passage, “The Lord Created Me.“
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: http://St-Takla.org / Contact us at